Insights, data & more: A closer look at skier participation around the United States

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Insights, data & more: A closer look at skier participation around the United States

The data featured here is part of a comprehensive annual participation report conducted by SnowSports Industries America (SIA). In 2021, SIA polled a nationwide sample of 18,000 US citizens to garner valuable information about winter sports enthusiasts who enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, Alpine touring and more. The study provides valuable insight into key participant demographics like age, gender, region, types of skiing preferred, and diversity. As the snowsports community aims to welcome new audiences and grow participation, this report offers critical insights into consumer habits, what age groups are participating in which activities, and where these folks call home.

The latest report reveals similar trends to what we’ve seen in past years, with one confusing exception – Alpine skiing participation numbers declined by more than 5% in 2021/22 from the prior season. Perhaps this is a genuine decline in Alpine skiers, or maybe it’s the result of more skiers self-defining as Alpine touring participants or similar. It’s somewhat unclear why/how this number dropped by so much, but seeing the meteoric growth in Alpine touring, one can’t help but wonder if there’s a correlation. It will be interesting to see what next year’s SIA participation report illustrates in this regard. 

The undisputed highlight of this year’s participation study is the explosive growth in Alpine touring participants, increasing more than 90% in just the past year! A mere three years ago, 700,000 skiers considered themselves Alpine touring participants, and today, that number has more than tripled to 2.2 million participants. And the trend is widespread across demographic segments and regions. Growth was seen in all age groups, genders, education levels, incomes and races/ethnicities. Not surprisingly, in years past the region showing the strongest growth was the Mountain region – which includes Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. But this year, it was the South Atlantic region – comprised of states like Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginias – that took that top honor, further indicating that touring has moved into the mainstream. Backcountry skiing is officially part of the vernacular.

As we begin to wind-down the 2022/23 ski season, we can look at the data provided in this report to provide a glimpse into what may unfold in the years ahead. It’s not a crystal ball by any means, but this data enables us – as consumers and industry members – to better prepare for the changes and opportunities that lie ahead. Perhaps for the industry member that means increasing capacity and allocation of resources to the Alpine touring category, and for consumers, it might just mean this is the year to purchase your first Alpine touring setup. For media like FREESKIER, this data enables us to think critically about what type of content our audience might be most interested in, ensuring that we produce the best editorial product that we can for you, our readers.

SIA is the national non-profit, member-owned trade association representing the winter sports industry. Established in 1954, SIA’s mission is to help the winter industry thrive. For research inquiries, contact [email protected].